When I come across people and organizations that are doing things to make positive impacts I like to share their stories with the world. A few months ago, I was at a SafeWay and took this picture of some fruit nobody would want to buy. I thought to myself, “This shouldn’t happen. I wonder if somebody is already working on this issue.” Later that same day, by chance, I met Aaron Stroud and John Iglesias, founders of Pro-Use Produce. After a quick introduction, I learned that they were working on just the issue I discovered earlier. Please read the following description of what they do and how you can get involved.

Pro-Use Produce (PUP) is a start-up Not-For-Profit organization that is meeting food security issues in Seattle through innovation, partnership and audacity. PUP was created by John Iglesias (MS Leadership and Management) and Aaron Stroud (MA Organizational Psychology) in 2011. Through a fiscal sponsorship agreement with St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Greenlake, PUP has been operating as a 501(c)3 organization since 12/21/2011.

PUP was awarded a grant from Rainier Valley Eats, through United Way of King County, for a project which will increase public access to healthy dried fruits and vegetables in Rainier Valley. PUP’s partner Rainier Valley Food Bank will distribute dehydrated fruits and vegetables to its patrons and donate surplus fruits and vegetables to PUP for dehydration. PUP also receives fruit and vegetable donations from Madison Market (Central Co-Op) every week. With volunteers, John and Aaron prepare, dehydrate and package the produce for distribution at the Rainier Valley Food Bank. PUP also sells a portion to pay for costs. To learn how you can support PUP’s mission and purchase high quality dehydrated fruit and vegetables please email John and Aaron at prouseproduce@gmail.com.

In Spring and Summer 2012 PUP will also be working in cooperation with City Fruit, a Seattle-based fruit tree gleaning organization, to increase the availability of locally grown fruit through PUP’s dehydration processes and partnerships.

To learn more about Pro-Use Produce visit http://www.prouseproduce.com (still under construction). To find out ways you can support Aaron and John’s work in creating a food rich Seattle you can e-mail them at prouseproduce@gmail.com. Ways in which you can support them include: purchasing excellent dehydrated fruits and vegetables, tax-exempt donations, processing fruit and vegetables, donating fruits and vegetables, donating business/marketing services, and much more.

Co-Founders: John Iglesias and Aaron Stroud Email: prouseproduce@gmail.com Website: www.prouseproduce.com

Other Websites: http://www.rainiervalleyeats.org/ http://www.madisonmarket.com/ http://rvfb.org/ http://www.unitedway-wa.org/

We are currently looking for assistance in gathering volunteers, website development and someone who will look for and apply to grants. Also, we are looking for someone who can head up donations.